With campaigns winding down to the April 4 election, General Election and early voting having already begun, the RoundTable asked the candidates for Mayor and candidates for Alderman of the First, Third, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Ninth Wards to answer this question in 250 words or less: Why should people vote for you?
Most of the candidates responded, and their responses are below. The RoundTable edited some responses for clarity and other reasons.
Candidates for Mayor
Local businessman Steve Hagerty and Sixth Ward Alderman Mark Tendam are the two candidates for mayor, having emerged from a field of five in the Feb. 28 primary election.
Alderman Tendam’s Response:
Evanston’s Mayor serves as the principal advocate for policies that will benefit the entire community — not just a particular group.
Knowing which programs to support and which to discourage, which innovations to embrace and which to be wary of, and how to do the most good for the most people economically and with the least possibility of impacting others negatively takes experience, level-headedness and an ability to bring people with different views together. Running a city is different from running a business: city government exists to create healthy, safe, and positive environments for all people.
I believe that my two decades of public service make me the most qualified candidate to be your Mayor. In my eight years as Alderman, I have: been involved in producing eight balanced budgets; have chaired the Human Services Committee, Planning and Development Committee, Rules Committee, City-School Liaison Committee, and Economic Development Committee; have served as the Council’s sole representative on the Housing, Homelessness and Human Relations Commission and completed the Citizens’ Police Academy training.
More than 20 years ago I rolled up my sleeves and got involved because I loved Evanston and wanted us to be the best we could be. I still do. If you vote for me I will be a full-time Mayor. I will wake up every morning and go to bed every night with the single goal of improving the lives of everyone in our community.
Mr. Hagerty’s Response:
Seventeen years ago, my wife Lisa and I made one of the best decisions of our lives; we moved to Evanston. Since then, I have built a national business which deals with government every day, helping communities recover from disasters like 9/11, Katrina, and Superstorm Sandy. I am also deeply involved in Evanston civic life. Above all, I can think of no better place to raise a family.
But there is work to be done. Through collective action we can and must strengthen the values and the business of our community. It has been said that experience matters. I agree and ask you to look at my record as a leader and collaborator who gets things done: from initiating the Evanston MashUp, to helping YOU with its $16M capital campaign, to offering a thoughtful process forward for the Harley Clarke mansion.
We need someone who has worked across all aspects of our community – business, non-profit, Northwestern, etc. – who will use those relationships to increase collaboration, efficiency, and effectiveness. We need someone who is willing to encourage and listen to different perspectives and work to keep Evanston welcoming for everyone. Mostly, with the budget crisis in Springfield, we need someone who has national experience and a fresh perspective, to help us remain a financially stable, diverse, and progressive community.
My business is government. For over two decades, I have served communities across the U.S. on their worst day. Now, I would like to serve the community I live in every day.
Candidates for First Ward Alderman
In the City’s First Ward, Lee Cabot is challenging incumbent Judy Fiske.
Ald. Fiske’s Response:
As 1st Ward alderman since 2009, I am confident that residents already have a pretty good idea of what they can expect from me. They can continue to count on me to help solve their problems, and to listen to everyone before making a decision. They can continue to count on me to serve as a full-time alderman who is accessible and readily available during the work day – and at night and on weekends. They can continue to count on me to respond promptly to phone calls and emails when they have a service request. They can continue to count on me to hold quarterly ward meetings and frequent neighborhood meetings, and to reach out to them when issues impacting them arise. They can continue to count on me to push for economic growth and balanced development. They can continue to count on me to protect our lakefront, especially at a time when support for defending our environment is being threatened. They can continue to count on me to work with Northwestern, developers and city staff to create solutions than work well for everyone. And they can continue to count on me to represent the 1st Ward with a strong, independent voice that is neither beholden to special interests from outside the ward nor silenced by serious conflicts of interest. Thank you for your ongoing support for the past eight years. I look forward to continuing to serve you.
Ms. Cabot’s Response:
As First Ward Alderman, I will focus on fully representing all the residents of the First Ward, responsible economic development, and having a more productive, strategic relationship with Northwestern University.
I know from those who asked me to run, and from 1st Ward residents I met while knocking on over 700 doors, that there are many whose voices are neither sought nor heard, and in some cases, ignored. I pledge to always listen and respond to all, and to bring information to you consistently and frequently. I will meet you where you are.
Regarding economic development, I will preserve Evanston’s unique history, architecture, and environment – particularly the lakeshore – and attract businesses to grow our economy. We must continue to achieve our goals in an ever-tougher fiscal environment, and this will require revenue. While living in the ward for 21 years and serving on 10 boards in a leadership capacity – most recently as president of Foundation 65 – I developed valuable relationships across the City that will help achieve these goals.
Finally, I will make sure the relationship between the First Ward and Northwestern moves forward in a mature, transparent manner. We must have representation that will better communicate Northwestern’s plans and align them with the needs of the ward. I also believe Northwestern can do more, and will do more, as a member of our community.
I pledge to do the hard work necessary to fully represent everyone in the First Ward.
Third Ward Alderman
Third Ward Alderman Melissa Wynne, seeking a fourth term, faces two challengers, Alex Block and Alex Morgan, in her bid to retain her set as Third Ward Alderman.
Mr. Block’s Response:
When she was 18, my mother left the rust-belt town of Warren, Ohio, to become the first in her family to attend college. After graduating, she went to work on the south side of Chicago helping shelter the homeless and caring for the mentally ill. At that time, she and my father lived in Northbrook. But by the time I was born, they lived in the only City they trusted enough to raise their son: Evanston.
What they saw in Evanston is what we all see in Evanston: a City that holds our hearts in balance as it teeters on the threshold between city and suburb, rich and poor, old and new, and black and white. They saw that in Evanston, when we’re at our best, we embrace our differences.
Now, more than ever, it’s time to double down on those progressive values. We need to support our schools, close the affordable-housing loophole, invest in our least privileged neighborhoods, combat climate change, and end stop-and-frisk. In the Third Ward, we need an alderman who’s engaged every day, not just Election Day. And, like my mom, we need to set big goals.
After all, if it can’t be done here, it can’t be done. And that’s why I’m running: to ignite this City’s potential and to achieve real Evanston progress. I have the skills and passion to get us there.
That’s why I have the support of Congresswoman Schakowsky and that’s why I ask for your vote.
Mr. Morgan’s Response:
It’s been 20 years since 3rd Ward residents had an opportunity to choose their voice on City Council. As a result, you haven’t been given a meaningful opportunity to weigh in on the direction of our city. It’s time for a change.
If elected, I’ll bring accessible, equitable, and transparent government to Evanston. I’ll put the salary from the position toward opening a 3rd Ward service office to create a gathering space for our community. I’ll host monthly town hall meetings and weekly coffee and office hours. Beyond that, I’ll continue coming to you to ask you about your needs and your vision for our community. That’s the type of service you should expect from your Alderman.
Why Alex Morgan? Because I have a track record of bringing people together and moving groups forward. As a kindergarten teacher, I worked with underserved students and their families to make the best choices in tough educational landscapes. As an organizer with Sierra Club, I helped local residents find their voices in their fight for clean air and clean Lake Michigan water. Today, as Executive Director at Progressive Turnout Project, I manage multi-million dollar advocacy programs across the country and train the next generation of leaders.
Now, I want to serve here at home. I ask you to vote for Alex Morgan for 3rd Ward Alderman on April 4th.
Ald. Wynne’s Response
Over the next four years, our city will face daunting challenges. Trump in the White House and continued Springfield dysfunction mean, more than ever, that we in Evanston will need to rely on our own resourcefulness. And we’ll be doing so with major turnover in city leadership – a new Mayor and at least a third of the City Council learning the ropes. Especially now, Evanston and our Ward need aldermanic leaders like Melissa Wynne – a leader of unquestioned integrity, seasoned judgment, deep Evanston policy-making experience, and a proven track record of accomplishment. Please see Melissa’s website, mwynneforevanston.com, for details of her remarkable record of achievement for Evanston, including transforming the Main Dempster Mile into a vibrant economic engine; leading on the Lakefront Master Plan to protect our lakefront as non-commercial and open to all; and championing youth opportunity in our public schools, in summer jobs, in apprenticeships, and in street outreach. This is why Melissa has been endorsed by those who know best what she has accomplished for our city – Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, five Aldermen and hundreds of Third Ward neighbors and supporters. These are people who have collectively spent thousands of hours working side-by-side with Melissa and have seen, up close, her passion for our city and her skill in getting the job done. Please join with them in supporting Melissa Wynne – an Alderman with the experience and integrity that counts for Evanston’s future.
Fifth Ward Alderman
In the Fifth Ward, Carolyn Murray and Robin Rue are each seeking the aldermanic position of retiring Alderman Delores Holmes. Neither candidate submitted a response.
Sixth Ward Alderman
In the Sixth Ward, Thomas Suffredin and Virginia Mann are seeking the aldermanic position that Mark Tendam resigned to run for Mayor.
Ms. Mann’s Response:
For more than 20 years, I have been an effective voice for Evanston residents on issues of concern to the Sixth Ward and the entire City. With my own boutique public relations firm, a degree in economics and political science, and a deep knowledge of Evanston government, I am well prepared to address the important issues facing Evanston. A political independent, I am a fiscal conservative and a social liberal whose positions align closely with Evanston values.
My accomplishments include founding TREE (To Rescue Evanston Elms), which led to a program to inoculate elm trees that continues to be 99% effective and saves tax dollars; leading a neighbors group to stop a large development project that would have diminished the ambiance of our community and endangered property values; raising awareness of problems at the Evanston Animal Shelter, which led to new leadership and reduced euthanasia rates; and working to prevent a 10-foot wide concrete path through Perkins Woods.
I get things done. As Alderman of the Sixth Ward, I will continue to work diligently to represent the interests of all residents and find intelligent, equitable and effective solutions to problems facing our Ward and the entire City.
Mr. Suffredin’s Response:
The challenges and opportunities over the next four years will require a City Council that is inquisitive, diligent and professional – I am. Constituents who ask direct questions, demand accountability and won’t hesitate to acknowledge when our City falls short of our community’s expectations – I will. City Council members who understand how legislative processes work, know how to compromise without conceding core values and have knowledge and understanding of Evanstonians based in reality and experience – I do.
Except for my time in college and law school, I have lived here. Evanston is my home. I love this town, but loving Evanston does not render me incapable of acknowledging our City’s shortcomings. It serves as further motivation to address them. Great work has been done, but we must always strive to be better. I see this election as an opportunity for our community to reflect on our work and ask ourselves if we are satisfied.
We need to have frank and open discussions about inequality, development, affordability, our environment, infrastructure, pension liabilities, delivery of fundamental services, our “Good Neighbor” on the lakefront, and many other issues. We need people to facilitate those discussions who are open to listening and committed to acting upon what they hear. The next Mayor and City Council will make decisions that will impact all Evanstonians and those decisions should be made by people who understand our past, who are invested in our future and are committed to the task ahead – I am.
Eighth Ward Alderman
In the Eighth Ward, incumbent Ann Rainey is seeking another term. She is challenged by Rob Bady.
Mr. Bady’s response:
My life’s mission is to share my story, inspiring hope and motivating others to build community. I’m known as a “bridge builder” in Evanston, helping to find the synergies between groups, departments, and organizations to solve the problems we face today. My platform is pro community development, which includes public health and safety, education, affordable housing, and infrastructure sustainability, in an effort to build a more equitable Evanston.
While holding a full-time corporate job, I’ve dedicated several years of service work to the Evanston community. As a Ridgeville Park District commissioner, a member of the historic preservation commission, a graduate of the Citizens Police Academy, a senior Olympics basketball coach, a parent, a father, and a neighbor, I am seen as an innovative thinker helping to inspire others to look at life through a different lens, dream big and not let anything get in their way. My core values are honesty, loyalty, kindness, hope, and relationships.
As the weather transitions to spring, I believe the Eighth Ward, too, is in need of renewal and fresh energy to build and shape it for the future. The past teaches us what we could have done better. Now is the time to act on those lessons learned to honor our accomplishments while always asking ourselves what’s next. The potential of our ward is limitless, if we work on building it together.
Ald. Rainey’s response:
I’m seeking reelection to this office because I love the 8th Ward and have worked for many years to make it a great ward. I’ve provided great service to my neighbors, and together we have solved many problems. I’ve brought tremendous resources to the ward; we have transformed vision into reality, creating entrepreneurs and jobs and the establishment of vibrant business district in the Howard Ridge TIF District. As Smylie Brothers develops their new business, the commercial community will grow in the 2400 block of Oakton.
There is so much to do, I feel as though I am just getting started!
I have invaluable experience. I’ve been exposed to every issue a midwest municipality confronts, short of a tornado. I learn from very smart residents and staff people that have guided the many Councils on which I’ve served. My understanding of city departments is excellent—I have watched them grow and change over the years. I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. I can answer constituents’ questions within an hour. If I don’t know the answer, I know exactly who does.
I’ve been an innovator when it comes to economic development because I have to be, not to mention creative, smart and tireless. Howard Street is not an easy street! I understand complex financial and economic development issues, I provide good service to my constituents. Through my leadership and problem solving skills l have resolved controversial issues in this past term by bringing very diverse people together to reach compromises.
Ninth Ward Alderman
Cicely Fleming and Shawn Jones are seeking the position of Ninth Ward Alderman, vacated by Brian Miller when he ran for Mayor in the Feb. 28 primary election.
Ms. Fleming’s Response:
Having grown up in Evanston, I am proud to raise my family in the town that gave me so much. I have served as a volunteer, activist, and community leader because I want to give back and see our community thrive. If granted the opportunity to serve as Ninth Ward Alderman, my goal will be to include all residents in City decisions. I will make sure my neighbors are informed and have opportunities to be heard on issues that impact the Ninth Ward and the entire City. I commit to holding regular ward meetings, publishing a newsletter, and forming an advisory committee of Ninth Ward citizens to work with me on engaging and representing our ward.
As your Alderman, I will work diligently to improve the quality of life within the Ninth Ward. I will achieve this by increasing activities and resources for our youth south of Main Street, improving safety with enhanced crosswalks and additional stop signs, and assessing City fees to determine how to reduce the financial burden on residents.
Building on my proven track record of leadership, I will continue to fight for equity throughout the City and make decisions that improve the lives of all residents. I will continue my passionate advocacy for our ward – bringing your voice to local government. I commit to collaborating with you to address the concerns we all share, with integrity.
Mr. Jones’s Response:
I offer real experience and real solutions for the Ninth Ward. My experience comes from working as both an attorney in downtown Evanston and as a reporter covering City Council for the Evanston RoundTable over the past eight years. As an attorney, I represent clients in housing-crisis cases, including foreclosure, eviction and landlord-tenant matters. I have saved people’s homes by working out solutions with lenders, and worked both sides of eviction matters to either stand up to bad landlords or help good landlords find paying tenants so mortgage payments can be made.
I also help expunge criminal records so youth can find jobs or become U.S. citizens. I have worked with both immigrants and refugees in navigating complex bureaucracies, including the IRS. Daily, I solve problems for Evanston residents.
As a reporter, I broke the James Park water quality story and made sure residents knew the City has alleged our drinking water is contaminated. I broke the A. Lamp criminal indictment story and was instrumental in bringing the Lawrence Crosby matter to light. I have earned the respect of City leaders, Council members, and department heads.
I do not believe in complaining about problems at the City level, but instead believe in proposing real, achievable solutions. I have ideas for affordable housing solutions, police accountability, and the delivery of City services. I have a record of serving all economic levels of the Evanston community, and I will bring that record of service to the City Council.